Jackfruit Is The Easy Vegan Substitute You Need For Sardines

Sardines have garnered a renewed appreciation as a versatile, meaty, slightly fishy-tasting ingredient to enhance any dish from pasta to sandwiches or even just to eat directly out of the can. If you're looking for a plant-based substitute to assimilate their flavor and texture, jackfruit is up to the task.

Just as sardines have experienced a revival in popularity, jackfruit has become the new "it" food for vegan recipes. It has a neutral flavor and a flaky, chewy texture that makes it the perfect substitute for the meaty texture of sardines. Furthermore, it's very easy to impart flavor to its neutral palate, as evidenced by the various brands of marinated, cooked jackfruit you'll find lining refrigerated store shelves. Sardines have a fishy, salty flavor that you can mimic with oceanic umami ingredients like seaweed, kelp, blended pickled umeboshi, soy sauce, miso paste, and garlic.

All it takes is adding canned or jarred, drained cooked jackfruit to a marinade of umami-rich ingredients, and you'll have a flavorful, flaky sardine substitute. You can even store the fruit in the marinade, adding olive oil, herbs, chilies, spices, and aromatics to the mix to parrot the many flavors of marinated sardine tins you'll find at specialty grocers or European markets.

What to make with jackfruit sardines

Since jackfruit can easily be molded into a worthy sardine substitute, you can use jackfruit sardines for any recipe that calls for regular sardines. Tasting Table offers a wide variety of dishes that use sardines, many of which mash them into pasta sauces or casseroles. Stir them into a bubbly marinara sauce to add a meaty chew to spaghetti. Sauté them with garlic and lemon juice as a savory and bright foundation for vegan sardine pasta that's garnished with bread crumbs and plenty of cheesy nutritional yeast.

They'd also be delicious over steamed rice, drizzled with chili oil and soy sauce, and garnished with scallions, garlic chips, and sesame seeds. You can also make vegan onigiri or fish balls by stuffing sushi rice with sardine jackfruit or blending the jackfruit with vegan cream cheese and spices before rolling them in panko breadcrumbs.

For a simple yet delicious application, vegan sardines would make the perfect toast topper or sandwich filler. They'd bring a burst of umami to a creamy avocado toast. You could also use them as a tuna salad substitute to blend with pickle relish, celery, scallions, and vegan mayonnaise on toasted sourdough bread with slices of juicy tomatoes and lettuce. The list goes on and on!